Russia’s Putin, China’s Xi hail ties amid tensions with West

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have held a video meeting, as friction persists in both countries’ relations with the West.

In their opening remarks at the virtual summit on Wednesday, Putin and Xi hailed relations between Russia and China, with the Russian leader declaring them “a proper example of interstate cooperation in the 21st century”.

“A new model of cooperation has been formed between our countries, based among other things on such principles as not interfering in internal affairs [of each other], respect for each other’s interests, determination to turn the shared border into a belt of eternal peace and good neighbourliness,” Putin said.

Xi said that the Russian president “strongly supported China’s efforts to protect key national interests and firmly opposed attempts to drive a wedge between our countries.”

“I appreciate it very much,” the Chinese leader said.

Putin also said that he plans to meet with Xi in person in Beijing in February and attend the 2022 Olympics. “As agreed, we will hold talks and then take part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Western countries have escalated in recent months over a Russian military build-up near the border with Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Moscow of massing tens of thousands of troops in preparation for a possible large-scale military offensive. The Kremlin denies it plans to invade and says the West is gripped by Russophobia.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders would discuss tensions in Europe and “aggressive” rhetoric from the United States and NATO.

“The situation in international affairs, especially on the European continent, is very, very tense right now and requires discussion between allies,” Peskov said, referring to Moscow and Beijing.

“We see very, very aggressive rhetoric on the NATO and US side, and this requires discussion between us and the Chinese.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the meeting was expected to “further enhance the high-level mutual trust between the two sides”.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said the summit would enhance the already high level of trust between the two countries.

“The strength of this bilateral relationship seems to be based on two things … It’s extremely practical,” Yu said, referring to the mutual investments and trade ties.

They also value each other “enormously when it comes to the diplomatic side of things,” she said, noting the “common criticism” that they have received from the US and Europe.

Russia has cultivated closer ties with China as its relations with the West have worsened, and Putin has used the partnership as a way of balancing US influence while striking lucrative deals, especially on energy. He and Xi this year agreed to extend a 20-year friendship and cooperation treaty.

 

 

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